USS trustee board to proceed with pension and benefit cuts

The much-disputed changes will take effect from April

Hope William-Smith
clock • 2 min read

Controversial changes to Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pensions and provisions decided by the scheme’s Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) have today (28 February) been approved by its trustee.

The Financial Times reported the confirmation which comes after the JNC - whose members are appointed by both the University and College Union (UCU) and sponsoring employer Universities UK (UUK) -  voted in favour of UUK's package of measures designed to plug the scheme's deficit on 22 February.

These proposals would see accrual reduced from 1/75 to 1/85, the salary threshold for accrual lowered to £40,000 and benefits only protected against inflation up to 2.5%.

This is a reduction from the current limit, where the Consumer Prices Index is matched in full for the first 5% and then 50% of the excess over 5% is paid, up to a maximum increase of 10%. UUK has also sought to delay the inflation cap in its original proposals for three years.

By coincidence, USS trustee approval comes as the High Court in London today confirmed a legal challenge to the 2020 valuation of the scheme will proceed to its next stage. Four claims against USS Limited on behalf of all members of its pension scheme were submitted to the High Court on 1 November last year after more than 1,500 university staff members launched action.

Former leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn was among crowds of university staff and students today continuing industrial action across the country - the most recent stint of which commenced on 14 February.

UCU said last Friday (25 February) that "unmanageable workplaces, pay inequality, and the use of exploitative and insecure contracts" were still key issues alongside its call for better working conditions, pay and pensions for staff.

The union confirmed many staff are also currently engaged in action short of a strike which involves working strictly to contract agreements, not covering for absent colleagues, not undertaking voluntary activities, and not rescheduling classes or lectures missed due to strike action.

Despite the rejection of its alternative proposals to plug the USS deficit, the UCU has signalled its intention to continue strikes, dialling up the action with a marking and assessment boycott.

See more: All the latest PP updates on USS

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